tv Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer Current October 8, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
go time! only on current tv. there. projection. "viewpoint" is next. [ ♪ theme music ♪ ] >> eliot: good evening i'm eliot spitzer and this is "viewpoint." mitt romney attacks president obama on one of the president's strengths--foreign policy. the new poll shows the president passive, disconnected performance at last week' debate may have cost him his lead. that despite friday's jobs numbers showed that unemployment had finally dropped below 8% for the first time since the president took office. according to the latest pew poll if the election were held today, 49% of likely voters would support mitt romney to just 45% for president obama. the president led romney by eight points in that same poll just under a month ago.
we'll have more on that a little later in the program. mitt romney may have been hoping to widen that lead with a much anticipated speech at the virginia military institute today that articulated his approach on foreign policy, focusing primarily on u.s. relations in the middle east. the g.o.p. contender portrayed the president as naive in his dealings with our enemies inand enempty with our friends. >> i know the president hopes for a safer freer and more prosperous middle east applied with us. i share this hope. but hope is not a strategy. it is our responsibility and the responsibility of the president to use america's greatest power to shape history not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. >> eliot: romney went on to explain what he would do to assert american leadership. >> romney: i'll put the leaders of iran on notice that the united states and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons
capability. i'll support the libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them. and syria i'll work with our partners to identify and organize the members of the opposition who share our values, and then ensure that they obtain the arms they need. finally, i'll recommit america to the goal of a democratic, prosperous palestinian state living side by side it in peace and security with the jewish state of israel. >> eliot: of course, much of that matches what the administration is already doing in the middle east. as white house press secretary jay carney said to reporter, and i quote. on iran for example concrete prescriptions that make sense have been acted on. israel's leaders themselves have said that the supreme court from this president is unpress didn't: madeleine albright was more scathing. i think it is really full of platitudes and free of
substance. i would really like to ask governor romney and his advisers what he would do differently. and then the campaign ad reminded voters of the hapless response that in the attacks that killed chris stevens. >> romney's response showed a lack of presidential character and republican experts said romney's remarks were the worst possible reaction to what happened. if this is how he handles the world now think of what mitt romney might do as president. >> eliot: for more on mitt romney's assault on foreign policy record and focus in the middle east i'm joined by james traub who writes regular column "terms of engagement" for foreign policy.com and jon soltz, an iraq war veteran and co-founder and chairman of vote vets.org . is there anything tangible to
bitebite into. >> it is adder. the bellicose language is the classic bellicose language, democrats are soft. democrats are weak. democrats are not resolute. but in this speech they've gotten closer to president obama than they were before. in the case of iran, which is iwhich has always been romney's big issue, he didn't say we should be prepared to bomb iran. no. he said, because he's trying to show that he's moderate now we should be prepared to impose tight sanctions on iran. >> eliot: what does that mean? the sanctions are crushing the iranian economy. their currency has been devalued dramatically. there is currency internally. what other sanctions could we impose? >> there is not much. once obama agreed to sanctions that was one. then he said the u.s. should arm
syrian rebels. that's not what he said. he said the u.s. should work to organize the rebels so that they can be armed by others. that's identical to the obama administration position. >> eliot: and it may be happening. those are the covert efforts that may be running through iran saudi saudi arabia. >> they are. >> eliot: they don't want to publicize them. but jon, let's go to you. you have been in iraq. you heard what romney said we should be doing differently in iraq. how does it strike you. you had boots on the ground, tell us your reaction. >> i was shocked. he some how thinks he could have done differently in iraq. we were being bounded by the militia, supported by iran. we can build the hardware of democracy but it does not mean that we'll win the election. fringe elements of the militia
last week killed troops after combat was supposedly over. there was no way they were going to agree to have american troops stay. he made some speech talking about how this president messed up and how iraq is in chaos. that's preposterous. was he going to lead guys like me out in the field out immunity? on afghanistan he sat there and where we have troops engaged in combat now. now he's saying yeah, i don't want to get out exactly on the timeline but i'll reevaluate that when i become president. he seemed to seemed to move back to center neo-george bush. he provide nod guidance on real romney doctrine would be and how he would use u.s. military force and how he would handle our military affairs. >> eliot: frankly president obama has done a reasonably effective and timely job extricating us from the iraq and
afghanistan. he's getting us out. yet the language and emotional impetus of what we hear from mitt romney-- >> and there is a political point. leaving aside the merits of the case. the republicans forever have been saying we're prepared to use force and democrats aren't. we're in a different world now. the republican constituency does not want us to be in iran. they don't want us to be in afghanistan. simply as a political gesture it's a loser. >> eliot: which is why the fascinating point, both with respect to iraq, jon which you addressed, and syria jim which you addressed pulling back at the same time he uses the tough language to appeals to the pound-the-table bellicose language that the republican party wants to assert. >> you might ask what is the connection between increasing by two, three four percent what is
already the biggest defense budget and bigger than any defense budgets put together, how is increasing that increasing our security? paul ryan said that the terrorists would be afraid of us if we spent more money. >> there is another angle to this, the game change would have been if governor romney had gone to the true conservative position where he said, i want to get out of afghanistan earlier. if he becomes president the military is not going to want a long-term counter insurgency in afghanistan. the country wants us out and the president can do more to get us out quicker. other than that it's complete pandering to the neo-cons. >> eliot: afghanistan, iran, syria, mitt romney is 0-for-3 good rhetoric, zero in substance. let's talk about libya which has been the hot spot with the
horror of the bengahzi consulate. this has been the biggest problem for the white house where you have the strategy. >> yes. >> eliot: it seems at a political level mitt romney is capitalizing on what appears to be a moment of weakness by the administration but is not libya in essence a success story. >> yes, it's difficult for romney to talk about. he says today we're still in a battle between the tyrants and the democrats. that's not what is happening in libya today. that's what happened a year ago. when that happened, as jay carney pointed out, he was on the wrong side. he was not in favor of getting rid of gadhafi. you have these weak fragmented states, it's not clear what romney would do to assist these weak states to keep them from falling apart. >> eliot: in romney's speech, early in the speech he said and he goes on at some length after the attack this is in bengahzi,
tens of thousands of libyans held a massive protest against the extremists who murdered the ambassador, even in an odd way there is internal inconsistency in his speech. he said because of what we did we brought democracy and those who launched the attack are the fringe element, and then he goes on to say we didn't-- >> this is a like a thankful obama moment? they brought the u.s. in. >> eliot: is there an analogy on this and iraq? >> this was a hit on the embassy. they know where the safe house is. this is an inside job. this is similar to what we're seeing in afghanistan. where we have 51 visors killedder. i was in iraq as an adviser. intervention in libya is complicated. although it may look a certain way right now the problem for governor romney as the president has said he'll go after the people who attacked the embassy and killed our ambassador, but
in regards to what is happening in africa because of libya weapon systems have gone into northern mali where we have al-qaeda insurgency taking over the country. we have side-effects here where i'm not sure we have the full picture on who exactly attacked the embassy and what our relationship is with the libyan insurgency, and what we see in syria. how do we know exactly who is who? >> eliot: the short answer is we don't, and that's why they're playing the cautious game. i don't want to leave without giving you a chance to give the these of your article on the transportationtransformation of abraham. barack obama. >> ohhow is he going to outflank obama. he went to cairo and gave a beautiful speech and how he was going to recast in the islamic work. it didn't work. how are you going to get rid of the tyrants and change the
israel-palestine problem. and i think he figured out that because of who i am can recast america. it wasn't going to go as far as he thought. he became the pragmatic president who romney is trying to make believe he is not. >> eliot: you made the fascinating point that many president versus gone through this intellectual revolution, wilson and even jfk, and barack obama more rapidly because he is smart. james traub and jon soltz chairman of vote vets.org , thank you for your time. how much difference did the presidential debate make? more "viewpoint" coming up ahead. (vo) what is said here could decide the election. current tv presents coverage of the vice presidential debate. with unrivaled analysis and commentary. >> was this the game changer? is this going to change the dynamic? (vo) the only network with real-time reaction straight from
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you disgust me. prove it. enough is enough. d-con baits are specially formulated to kill in one feeding. guaranteed. d-con. get out. >> eliot: so manniferous separations watching last week's debate. one of them, the many strong arguments president obama could have made but didn't. and one of those gives us the number of the day. 36 million. that's how many people with pre-existing conditions risk being denied medical coverage if mitt romney repeals the president's healthcare reform. despite romney's claims that people who already suffer ailments would still be covered if they changed jobs, bloomberg news says this that it doesn't complain what his plan would do for many other patients. as usual, governor romney gets vague on the details. even nearly a week later he
still has not filled in the blanks. but tens of millions to find affordable healthcare unattainable. they'll bring this up thursday in the debate with congressman paul ryan. 36 million people have their health eight risk. the president and vice president should hammer it home in t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t (vo) always outspoken, now unleashed. joy behar. >> on my next show, robert klein can't stop his leg, gilbert gottfried can't stop his mouth and i can't stop laughing long enough to ask a question. >> eliot: there were some folks last week before the debate who declared the presidential race over. confession time, i was one of them. but after two debate performances, one of which goes down as one of the best, and another goes down as one of the worst, it's time to recognize
that this race has begun anew. inin a just-released post-debate pew national poll, mitt romney has pulled ahead of the president among likely voters by four points. and a stark contrast from the same poll conducted just after conventions showed the president ahead by eight. at a certain point national polls become less important as focus shifts to the swing states even after his disastrous debate president obama can get some comfort that he remains ahead. even if only slightly. in virginia, the president has a three-point advantage over mitt romney. and in wisconsin the president still hold as two-point lead. and as long as romney has surrogates like newt gringrich that probably won't change. >> standing on the stage with you in arizona this is what mitt romney said, number one i said we're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20%, including the top 1%. mr. speaker, you mentioned that your opponent mitt romney had a problem with being dishonest in
the primary. my question is was he dishonest when he said that. >> i think it's clear he changed. >> eliot: joining me from washington from "huffington post"'s" bureau chief ryan grim and democratic strategist zerlina maxwell. thank you both for coming tonight. when he needed to think on his feet articulate to respond, he couldn't perform. is the public saying we may not be in love with you the same way we used to. >> i clearly think he has high expectations. he's the guy of soaring rhetoric from four years ago and throughout his presidency, but he has never been a strong debater. the expectations did not meet reality because we're looking to compare him to his speeches and not his debate performances which never were stellar. >> eliot: it's one thing no idea no vision, not even a defense of his own record.
>> i agree. >> eliot: when you go into a debate you defend your record, and present your vision, he was standing like a punching bag. ryan, who could explain the performance of that by someone who is clearly so smart and has been the president for four years? >> well, you know, a lot of people have tried to get inside his head. if i were going to do that, i would say primarily he has a disdain for romney. and he wanted to express it in kind of a dismissive way like i'm president of the united states, who does this think guy think he is to be standing up on the stage with me. that kind of explains why he was looking down, looking down at the podium the whole time, and just trying--almost ignore the fact that there was this guy to his right. you know, there are so many obvious times he could have jumped in. like mitt romney said, gee, i need a better accountant.
it doesn't take an expert debater to think of something you could say to mitt romney. >> eliot: at that moment we were all covering and i was screaming, no, i want your accountant. i'm paying 35%. you're faying 14%. give hey he me him. you're right humor theory, anything to puncture the balloon. zerlina answer this question, i think ryan is right. the president did not seem like he wanted to engage with either mitt romney or the public. the way mitt romney came across as the personable guy who cared. >> rare for romney. >> eliot: but it worked. president obama is the president of the united states but he's also the candidate. >> in the next debate and the vice presidential debate, when mitt romney or paul ryan is saying something that is not
true. they need to call it out. that is not true. you do have a $5 trillion tax cut in your plans. you're not going to cover people's pre-existing conditions in your healthcare plan. you need to say it then and not rely on fax checkers the next day. >> eliot: you can't wait for the story the next day. ryan zerlina is right. you cannot depend upon that. how does the president need to do that,e vince this power and passion and sense of purpose that so clearly was missing. >> i think people want to see that he wants the job. that he wants to fight for them. if you look at it this way if somebody is looking at somebody who won't even stand up for themselves, then what are the chances they're thinking that this person is going to stand up for me? when you're watching obama in this debate you can finally see why it is that he was getting rolled day in and day out by the republicans on capitol hill. you can say hey man that is a
guy i would like to be negotiating with. >> eliot: i'm going to interrupt for a reason. you said something critically important. and zerlina i want you to respond to this the performance he gave us have fit the image that republicans have been trying to create, weak, vas lating not able to speak on his feet. that's why it was so treacherous. it wasn't that he just had an off-night, but that it metastasized against him. in the column over the weekend they wrote where they have the mythical president saying that is a lie over and over again. a hard punch to the gut. nothing polite. saying that is a lie. does he need to do that? >> yes, he absolutely needs to do that. one of the things that polling today that struck me was that romney has all but closed the gender gap. in a debate that did not mention
women's issues like who choice and healthcare for women and i don't believe an 18-point gap was closed but he needs to use those moments to his advantage. >> eliot: he did not mention the 47 or gender or anything. he just looked down and said, um. not a stellar performance. let's pivot, does it now fall on joe biden's shoulders to show that he can be tough and aggressive and take apart paul ryan piece by piece? >> sure, it was already going to be easier for joe biden relative to '08 when he didn't want to be seen as as bully debating sarah palin. it's also easier for the vice presidential candidate to be the attack dog because they don't need to look presidential by definition. but there is this pressure if
paul ryan walks off the stage without a black eye practically people will say yeah biden was supposed to bring it and he didn't. when the narrative was before paul ryan is this gifted wonk and he's going to go out and make mince meat of biden. >> eliot: if i'm paul ryan the first words out of my mouth is mr. vice president i want to quote you directly. the middle class has been buried for four years. you gave us your own score card on your own term. you have graded yourself as a failure. how does joe biden dig himself out of that hole. >> he says it was not just four years and the last four years the result of policies the same that mitt romney and paul ryan are trying to propose will bury the middle class.
i think-- >> eliot: i think bill clinton was part of the failure too. nobody would satisfy you. time to change the captain at the helm. ryan, what is your answer if you're joe biden. >> i think something to that effect. he could joke how he doesn't always say exactly what he's trying to say or put it in the most politics terms but that's basically what you want to say. you want to say eight years of deregulation and policies that expended the inequality gap and that led to this public that led to the crisis, which led to the four years of bubbling economy and then shoot a bit to the future. i'm not very good at that kind of thing. i probable would get hammered. >> cenk: this is the problem paul ryan turns back at him and says washington in gaffe is when you have the temerity to tell the truth. you told the truth and now you're stuck with it. i think joe biden is going to do
i can't stand these spots. those spots are actually leftover food and detergent residue that can redeposit on your dishware during the rinse cycle. gross. jet-dry rinse agent helps wash them away so the only thing left behind is the shine. jet-dry rinses away residues for a sparkling shine. >> eliot: coming up, we'll discuss gun violence and why we're nearly the only ones discussing it. but first we've had time to digest last week's presidential debate. what does "snl"," steve colbert and jimmy fallen have to say about it? when it doesn't fit anywhere else we put it in the viewfinder viewfinder. >> according to 70 million people watched wednesday's debate on tv, online or from one of the podiums. >> everybody here is incredible professionals, such great friends and perform flawlessly night after night. i can't always say the same.
>> mr. president. >> i'm sorry yeah, yeah, what's up. >> mr. president, governor romney has just said that he killed osama bin laden. would you care to respond. >> no, you two go ahead. >> i think went on thinking this was going to be a discussion on the country's future and he was confronted by this performance on the other side gantry-esque. >> elmer. >> who is this elmer gantry, and what do you really know about him? his background, his reputation? what does he want? money? my job? you? what. >> that's a bit of a stretch my gosh, elmer gantry was a creek. >> elmer gantry was an all american boy. >> this debate was right in his whole house soul-crushing bore
dumb. it was so tedious i think this man in the front row fell asleep. >> moderator jim lehrer, he was like a ghost visiting a scene from his past life. hello, mr. president, governor romney, can anybody hear me. >> governor romney you're well over the two-minute allotted time. >> i still have 30 seconds here--jim, i'm just going to ask to you politely hush up a minute. >> when you're dealing with two men who want to be the most powerful man on earth you can't stand there like hugh grant. [ mumbling ] >> blah-blah-blah blah. >> da da da da. >> that's just annoying. will you shut the-bleep-up. >> jim shut the-bleep-up.
>> eliot: the election issue neither candidate will talk about, gun control the survivor of the (vo) what is said here could decide the election. current tv presents coverage of the vice presidential debate. with unrivaled analysis and commentary. >> was this the game changer? is this going to change the dynamic? (vo) the only network with real-time reaction straight from the campaigns and from viewers like you. >> so keep on tweeting and maybe you'll have your voice be part of this democracy and see your tweets up on our screen. >>now that's politically direct.
unwrap your paradise. soft, sweet coconut covered in rich, creamy chocolate. almond joy and mounds. unwrap paradise. >> eliot: you wouldn't know it from watching last week's presidential debate, but the debate was being held only ten miles from where months earlier 12 people were killed and 58 others wounded in a mass shooting of a local movie theater. the two candidates also stood
just six miles from the location of the horrific 1999 shooting of columbine high school. you wouldn't knee either of these things because the gun control, gun violence and gun regulation were all topics not one mentioned during the debate. but survivors of the aurora shooting are urging both presidential candidates to end their silence on the issue of gun violence. stephen barton was one of those 58 wounded when a gunman opened openedded fire in aurora this past july. >> i was shot, shot in the face and neck. but i was lucky. in 48,000 americans won't be so lucky because they'll be murdered before the next president's term. when you had watch the presidential debates ask yourself who has a plan to stop gun violence.
>> eliot: stephen barton who graduated from syracuse university this past may and won a prestigious fulbright scholarship to teach english in russia was on a summer bike trip across the country when a gunman in aurora tragically derailed his plans. what has the response been other than regular folks like me who watch it and say this is turning tragedy into good purpose? >> we have more than 250,000 people signing the petition online. i mean, it's clear to me that the american public wants this discussion now. >> eliot: and have the campaigns themselves gotten back to you? has anybody in the obama campaign said we're with you but it's hard now or any hint that maybe in a second term they would change their silence on this issue?
>> no, not that i've heard. it's just a deafening silence. >> eliot: and yet you've gotten some support. you're working with mayors, mike bloomberg, i give him credit the mayors who reside and governor urban centers that are the victims where the victims of gun violence usually find themselves. the mayors have been helpful? >> absolutely. it's a coalition of more than 725 mayors bipartisan, democrats, republicans, mayors without any affiliation, and so it's a group that is very concerned about what is happening in our cities, and what is happening on the streets to american's youth. they're very concerned. >> eliot: it struck me when i was in government, when i would speak to people that the issue of gun violence and gun control broke down not so much along partisan d republican and democrat lines but urban roles
where there is a pro live ration of guns where those in rural areas don't quite get it. >> i agree with that. when you look at polling with specific policies, having a background check. 87% of non-n ra members support that. in all areas of gun control support those measures. >> eliot: you have experienced this in a way that hopefully very few other people have or will. you went through horrifying incident. how quickly did you realize you wanted to spend the next year on this issue. >> it took me awhile to get involved, and come to mayors against illegal guns.
i eventually realized if i didn't get involved personally, i couldn't get mad at the lack of discourse. i just had to actually be involved and try to effect change that way. >> eliot: have you tried to engage the rapid opposition voices? have you gone to those who were in congress who said under no circumstances, second amendment what i view is a complete misunderstanding of that amendment, have you sat down with them and looked them in the guyer eye and said i'm a victim of the sorts of laws that you're passing. >> not yet but i'm sure that's not too far in the future. >> eliot: would you want to do that? emotionally would that be too hard for you? >> no, not at all. the only way to make progress on this issue is for both sides to discuss issues. to really encourage them to make concessions that don't infringe on their second amendment rights, and there is
clearly--there are solutions we can come to that will reduce the 34 americans who are murdered every single day with guns in this country. that's an unacceptable number, and we have to work together towards reducing it. >> eliot: the brady bill passed after the powerful advocacy of jim brady reagan's press secretary who was shot in the assassination effort of president reagan. those in aurora have an equally potent political power. i hate to say this after the suffering you've been through but you're sitting in a position where you can do amazing good. >> i hope so. it was probably the worse moment of my life, and i'm hoping to turn it into something that is positive and empowering. >> eliot: what sort of measures could congress pass? reasonable number of background checks the stamping of bullets. >> there are measures that are
worth looking at, but universal background checks. i mean right now 47% of guns sold under federal law they don't require a background check. that's a lot of guns in a country that has 300 million guns circulating. you know, that is something that as i said, nra gun owners, non-nra gun owners can agree on. we should know who is purchasing guns and denying those guns to people who are not fit to have them. >> eliot: look, what you're doing is so powerful. thank you. the tragedy you went through to bounce back this way. you look great healthy and powerful, and using your skills in such an important way. thank you. gun control advocate with "mayors against illegal guns," stephen barton, thank you so much. >> thanks. >> eliot: new york's lawsuit against jpmorgan chase wants to see this happen.
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>> eliot: when innocent people go to jail, what can we learn? that's ahead on my view. but first let's check in with jennifer granholm in "the war room." good evening governor, what have you got for us tonight? >> jennifer: thanks, eliot. foreign policy has moved back in the focus of the presidential debate. we'll have that, and then autism is a massive problem in america. we'll exam the immense social consequences. we'll have that and more inside "the war room" at 10:00 p.m. eastern. >> eliot: sounds great. i look forward to if you have an opinion, you better back it up. >>eliot spitzer takes on politics. >>science and republicans do not mix. >>now it's your turn at the only online forum with a direct line